Opinion | Student and Teacher, Moving Up Together

To the Editor:

Re “Kids Benefit From Having One Teacher Twice,” by Adam Grant (Opinion guest essay, Oct. 24):

Dr. Grant is right on target on the value of “looping” for kids and teachers who stay with them for a grade or more. In my dissertation research on middle-school teacher teams, I found that the most effective team was one that followed the same group of students for three years.

As the teachers explained, when they had students for just one year, they could blame the shortcomings of students on their previous teachers. After three years, they knew they should be able to show significant results for all their kids.

One other advantage of looping was creating a more cohesive professional community; after a couple of years away from a particular grade’s curriculum, teachers reached out to colleagues to learn from their more recent experience with that grade.

A win-win for everyone, and especially the students whom teachers never gave up on and built strong relations with over these years.

Rick Gordon
Jackson, Wyo.
The writer was the founding director of the Compass School in Vermont.

To the Editor:

Adam Grant’s advocacy for “looping” in education is a compelling invitation to deepen teacher-student relationships and nurture personalized learning. But as a high school junior, I find myself grappling with this idea.

Although looping’s promise is enticing, I’m concerned that it might inadvertently constrain students’ ability to adapt, leaving us ill prepared for our future.

High school has been an essential stage of transformation for me, marked by an ever-shifting landscape of diverse experiences, teaching styles and perspectives. I’m concerned that looping, which emphasizes a personalized relationship with a single teacher, may curtail the range of experiences essential for nurturing adaptability.

This quality, vital for future success in both college and the work force, is arguably honed through adapting to various teaching styles and methods that diverse teachers bring. In an era that demands versatile skills, we should recognize the value of a variety of experiences in education.

Taiki Yamauchi
Alexandria, Va.

To the Editor:

As an elementary-school teacher who did “loop” a kindergarten to first-grade class, I agree with Adam Grant in his praise for the practice. Knowing where your students left off and where you could begin was a big improvement over the mystery that would commonly occur with a new class.

In addition to the benefit to academics, there were the friendships that could continue in the classroom as well as the improved insights between teacher and student.

Another benefit was the communication between the parents and me. Having their child for two years enabled us to immediately pursue common goals and solve problems much more easily than starting fresh.

Parents can be asked for their preference concerning looping, so if there’s not a good fit for the child, the parent can opt out. I remember that out of 20 students, 19 remained in my next class. The parent who opted out came to me at the end of the year to tell me she’d made a mistake!

Some children would be OK with another teacher. But for others, looping meant a great deal and perhaps enabled them to succeed more than they might have without the teacher’s extra knowledge of the students.

Daina Schuman
Stamford, Conn.

To the Editor:

Re “Seeking Lawyers to Bless Trump’s Full Ambition” (front page, Nov. 2):

In his first term as president, Donald Trump made, from his point of view, several key mistakes. Among them was selecting well-known conservatives with at least some experience and gravitas for important positions in his administration.

The problem with these people was that they had at least a shred of decency and, ultimately, respect for the law and the Constitution. They, and others in his administration, refused in the end to execute his orders when those orders clearly violated the law.

He won’t make that mistake again. As this article reveals, a second-term Trump cabinet, and the rest of his administration, would be filled with inexperienced sycophants whose only qualifications are their total loyalty to him alone and their willingness to do anything he says, illegal or not.

Mr. Trump’s presidency was by far the worst in our history. A second Trump term, supported by these carefully chosen lackeys, would be nightmarish.

Tim Shaw
Cambridge, Mass.

To the Editor:

Re “The Roots of Republican Dysfunction,” by Jamelle Bouie (column, Oct. 22):

The MAGA supporters who call themselves “conservative” yet supported the Big Lie are not conservative. Overthrowing a legitimate election and installing a strongman you like is radical; it is not the least bit conservative.

I wish America had a real conservative party, which would serve a legitimate purpose in balancing the urges of us liberals. But nobody should be allowed to impose authoritarianism on fellow citizens and call it “conservative.” That is radical extremism.

Brett Lindenbach
North Haven, Conn.

To the Editor:

Re “Regulate the Skyline? What’s Your View?,” by Michael Kimmelman (Critic’s Notebook, Oct. 26):

Fifty years ago, when I was young, the Empire State Building could be seen from almost everywhere. It was, in the words of John Milton, “the cynosure of neighboring eyes.” Now, as Mr. Kimmelman writes, a uniquely unobstructed view can be glimpsed from an alley he found off 28th Street.

“The alley framed a postcard view of the Empire State Building,” he writes, “magically” preserving something lost elsewhere in the city, as widespread new construction has blotted out views, “occasionally breaking hearts.”

The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Empire State Building a landmark. But operating under existing law, the agency could not protect the view corridors nearby.

Old photographs will tell us something about what the Empire State Building once was. But will the historic preservation movement offer any strong strategic criticism of the planning policy vacuum Mr. Kimmelman’s criticism reveals? Who else will now defend the public interest in preserving views of our distinctive local architecture?

Christabel Gough
Hudson, N.Y.

To the Editor:

We fall deeply in love with our favorite views and hope they will never change. But, like people, views have life spans. I have mourned several lost cityscapes in recent years, but learned a valuable lesson in the process: Hold back your tears until the new building is revealed.

The Copper building on First Avenue near 35th Street took away the span of open sky that had delighted me for years with its unobstructed sunrises. But the quirky K-shaped Copper now serves as a compelling centerpiece for my sky photography. The sunrises are as splendid as ever, and there is a bonus: The Copper reflects the setting sun, lush with light as its colors fade to black.

On the other hand, I am angry to hear that a precious Manhattan view will no longer exist. Sign me up to support view cones. If the Empire State Building can be eclipsed, what will be next?

Roberta Hershenson
New York